How to Blog without Breaking the Law

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Blogging seems like an easy, safe way for expressing your thoughts, right? After all, the Internet is a place where everyone has freedom of speech, correct? Well, you may want to rethink that. Nowadays, you can be arrested even for being mean on the Internet – so you may not have as much freedom of speech as you thought. 

If you have a blog and don’t want to accidentally be thrown in jail because of it, then you may want to learn how to blog without breaking the law. This can save you from having a lawsuit filed against you, for something you probably never even thought was illegal.

1. Be Respectful of Private Information

Everyone is entitled to privacy, even in the online world. For instance, you may not use the information that your visitors leave on your website and share them with third parties. You need explicit consent to do that. 

If you are going to collect data from the visitors of your blog, you need to let them know in your privacy policy. If you are going to send them emails, ask for their permission beforehand. You are also required by the law to give them an opt-out option. 

2. Be Mindful of the Business Laws

When you start blogging, you need to know all of the specific laws in your business and area. For example, Milwaukee trial lawyers should know that, from a legal standpoint, giving advice online is seen as law practice. The state of Wisconsin treats you as a professional that is giving out legal advice, which is something that you may want to avoid.

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Only a licensed lawyer can provide legal advice, and it can only be given to those they have formed an attorney-client relationship with. You need to find a solution on how to provide valuable information, without it coming off like you are providing legal advice. If your blog is your business, you can get a lawyer to help you in this matter. 

3. Know the Copyright Laws

Copyright laws are there to protect the original authors of a specific piece of work. This can be anything from an image to a text fragment or audio content. Many people have trouble with this part, as they frequently add content they had no permission to use. Even that cute picture you found that fits your blog can get you into trouble if you don’t have permission or don’t give credit for it.

Ideally, when you write content for your blog, you should make sure it is original and that you did not copy it from someone else. You may use quotes, as long as you give credits to who said them – but don’t make the whole article a quote. 

You should also only use royalty-free licensed pictures or those that are labeled with Commons Creative licenses on the search engines. Be wary of those clearly sporting a watermark on the image.

4. Watch Your Facts

You may be writing about your personal opinions or experience with something. That’s good, provided that you are right on the facts. However, if you are wrong and your post catches wind, you could easily negatively affect someone’s reputation. If that person’s angry and determined enough, they may easily put a lawsuit on your head.

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Make sure that you have concrete proof over every piece of negative information. Take Johnny Depp’s $50m defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard. Depending on whom you egged the wrong way in your post, a lawsuit like this can be fairly expensive. Angry words can reach a high number of people, so try not to let your mouth run away from you.

5. Don’t Make Promises

When you are writing a blog, you are law-bound to discuss what you can expect of something rather than make an outrageous claim. For example, you can’t promise people that they are going to lose 10 pounds if they drink the miracle tree provided by some brand, or that they’ll look 10 years younger if they use a certain cream every day.

Not every product works the same for everyone, so rather than making such promises, you need to only suggest that it has the potential to do that. The product might help them with a certain issue. Even if the product is not yours, you might still be named in a lawsuit if a client is unhappy with the results.

The Bottom Line

Blogging is not as simple as putting down words online. You need to be very careful about what you are putting down there. Be original, get your facts right, and avoid making any outrageous promises. Other than that, be everything that a journalist/blogger should be.

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